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Challenge to Cherwell Local Plan Partial Review Dismissed

Hereward Phillpot QC
Hugh Flanagan

Mrs Justice Thornton has handed down judgment in Cherwell Development Watch Alliance v Cherwell District Council, dismissing the challenge to the adoption of the Cherwell Local Plan Partial Review.

The Partial Review was specifically designed to meet a portion of the unmet housing need arising from the City of Oxford, which suffers from acute levels of need and significant constraints which affect its ability to meet them within the confines of the City. The Partial Review allocated sites for 4,400 homes in the Oxford Green Belt in Cherwell district, all located in close proximity to north Oxford. The plan was adopted on 7 September 2020 and challenged under s.113 of the Planning and Compulsory Purchase Act 2004 by a coalition of residents’ groups who opposed the Green Belt allocations.

There were two grounds of challenge, both dismissed by the Judge. The Judge held that there was no legal error in the treatment of the housing need, in particular that the Inspector had taken proper account of the housing need figures for the City of Oxford, which had been recently scrutinised as part of the examination of the City of Oxford’s Local Plan. Nor was there any legal error in the Inspector’s reasoning or conclusion to the effect that a site reserved for a replacement golf facility, should it be necessary in light of the allocation of the existing North Oxford Golf Club for housing, could provide equivalent or better provision in terms of quantity and quality, thereby satisfying the policy test in the National Planning Policy Framework.

The Claimant has not sought permission to appeal from the Judge.

Hereward Phillpot QC and Hugh Flanagan appeared for Cherwell District Council in the High Court proceedings. Hugh Flanagan also appeared for the Council at the examination of the Partial Review.